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10889A Tale of Two Fragments

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  • Mike Grondin
    Apr 27 12:48 PM
      Ref: www.gospel-thomas.net/x_gjw2.htm (2014 update to 2012 timeline)
      By now, most of you will hopefully have read about the events of the last
      several days related to the Jesus' Wife Fragment (JWF). On the 24th, Christian
      Askeland posted some patently devastating findings about a second fragment
      from the same collector, which had also been turned over to King and examined
      by the same folks who examined the JWF. Thing is, images of this second
      fragment had not previously have been made publicly available, and were
      somewhat buried in the new HTR publications of the 10th, so it took awhile
      to find them.
      Askeland found that the John fragment exactly follows the line-breaks of
      every other line found in the Qau codex published by Sir Herbert Thompson
      in 1924, and available online. In addition, he claims that the writing of the
      two fragments is from the same hand with the same ink and the same writing
      instrument. Reactions from around the net provide support for Askeland
      (Alin Suciu) and indicate some mind-changing (Carrie Schroeder).
      What seems to have impressed most folks is the line-breaks. I'm in the minority
      in being not so impressed by that as by Askeland's claim that the writing is in
      the same hand. With respect to the line-breaks, Coptic experts say that they've
      never seen anything like it in any other two Coptic manuscripts. That may be
      so, but unless I'm mistaken, I believe that copies of the Masoretic text of the
      Hebrew bible exhibit a similar feature. If the John fragment is authentic, each
      line of the ms from which it came presumably contained two lines of the Qau
      codex (with the exception of the replacement of Lycopolitan 'abal' with Sahidic
      'ebol'). My own analysis of what would hypothetically have lain between the two
      sides of the fragment (see www.gospel-thomas.net/fragment.pdf) indicates a
      page-size of 61 lines, which is larger than normal, but proportional to a larger
      than normal line-size. So if this is a forgery, the forger took care to put about
      the right stuff on the back side of the fragment. That seemingly contrasts with
      the evidence of bumbling in the JWF. There's little visible evidence of forgery
      such as we find in the JWF (e.g., visible evidence of lettering above and below
      the edges of the fragment). All this can be explained, no doubt, but to my mind
      the key piece of evidence is the claim about the handwriting.
      I've had quite a bit of correspondence the last few days with Christian Askeland.
      I'm convinced that he has the expertise to make this claim, and he says that he'll
      soon publish the details - i.e., individual letters that show a distinctive hand
      similar between the two fragments. It would be good to have several experts
      examine the writing, particularly someone from the King camp. Perhaps that
      will happen when Christian posts the details, but so far, what we've seen is
      that, although HTR/HDS has been extraordinarily open with information once
      they decide to post it, their (and King's) real-time response to findings posted
      by scholars on the internet has been nonexistent. The wall between internet
      and academe is crumbling, but it hasn't fallen yet.
      Mike Grondin